tv The Daily Show With Trevor Noah Comedy Central December 16, 2020 1:14am-2:00am PST
very popular proposals can whither on the vine because of a filibuster in the senate. and so i don't try to gloss those over. you know, the paris accord did not solve climb change, but it created the first global framework, whereby all countries agreed we have to do something about this and here's a mechanism to do it. you can still be terrified about the pace at which we are burning up the planet, and yet think that was a worthwhile endeavor because it gives us at least the opportunity maybe three, four, five years down the road to keep building on that. so that is the kind of mentality i want young people to have, a certain impatience, a certain frustration, a certain anger about the status quo. there are times now where, you know, you have younger activists criticizing me for-- "obama, why didn't you take care of this or that or the other?" and i-- i welcome them feeling
frustrated and impatient, because that's how i was before i got started. and then they'll get their own knocks on the head and some stuff won't work out exactly the way they want. but the intul impulse is the oni want to encourage. because it's as a consequence of that constant striving and imagining something better that things don't get exactly as we want it, but they get better. >> trevor: you're a very serious person because, i mean, you're a president of the united states, but at the same time, you're a lot more fun than a lot of people think. you know. >> i'm constantly trying to explain to people i'm a funny guy, but-- but, i don't know. >> trevor: but you really are. you really, really are. what i liked in the book there are moments where there's just a roasting of people or life. like the g-20. i've never-- i've never heard a world leader describe the g-20 the way you do in the book it's high school of it all.
i wondered on a personal level have you maintained connections with those leaders? do you send angela merkel memes. who are you close with as a human being? >> i don't send angela merkel memes, but i talk to her sometimes. sometimes she'll give me a call. i'll give her a call. we'll trade notes. there are a hand full of folks who you've been in the fox hole with, right. you've done some good, important work. some of them are still in power, so i don't want to mention that know-- that i'm giving them a call because who knows? it might get them into trouble. you mentioned somebody like an angela merkel. look, the stance she took in europe relative to immigration and the enormous political cost she paid for that. and, yet, there was something inside her that said, look, i'm not going to simply abandon a
million people who are in dsperate need. you know, you see that in somebody, and you say... it-- it encourages you that for all the cruelty and venality and corruption around the world, there are a lot of good people doing good work. and some of them actually rise to significant positions of power, and in that sense, democracy can work the way it's supposed to if we have a vigilant citizenry, and that's not always the case. >> trevor: all right, don't go away. when we come back, i spend more time with president obama and he tells me the biggest challenge of his presidency. stay tuned.
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it's not about the toys or the ornaments but about coming together. santa, santa, you're on mute! just wanted to say thanks. thanks for believing. politicians. the best politicians may not necessarily be the best leaders. the best activists may not be the best organizers and so on and so forth. everyone has a role to play in
trying to get to a certain place. i wonder, when you set up this leadership academy that's all over the globe, you're clearly trying to create many obamas everywhere, which is probably a fever dream of the right. but what you're trying to do is create something specific. and i would like to know what that is. what do you-- what do you believe a leader is-- not just somebody who? power but a leader? >> the program we did in johannas berg, we gathered up 200 young leaders from 50 countries on the continent of africa. and it was as varied-- you had young women who had started rural health clinics. >> trevor: yeah. >> you had m.p.s who had taken a more conventional political route. you had entrepreneurs. the thing they all in common, though, was this-- this sense not only that the world could be better and that they had a role
to play in it, but also the belief that they couldn't do it by themselves, and that they had to in some ways unlock the potential and power of other people. a speech i gave in johannesburg in conjunction with that-- it was for the anniversary of mandela's 100th anniversary-- where i-- i contrasted that sort of democratic inclusive leadership to the strongman leadership that in some ways we've seen ascendant in certain parts of the world, in some ways was ascendant here in the united states. and those are two different stories of what it means to be a leader. and power. and that conflict, that battle between a more democratic, inclusive vision, and one that's
top-down, dominant subordinate, that's a contest taking place here in the united states and around the world. it's not going to be finished just because the election's over and donald trump was defeated, because you see examples of this in the fill beans, in hungary, in a variety of countries-- in africa and asia. and so that contest is going to continue. >> trevor: what i find fascinating about the conversation that a lot of americans are having now-- and you talk about this in the book as well-- is how america's influence in the world has diminished over the past few years, you know, how countries around the world have no longer said, "what is america doing? we're work with them." it's been more like, "no, guys. we can't wait for america. we're doing our own thing." but i wonder, as somebody who has grown up in other parts of the world, as someone who has family in other parts of the world, is there an argument that maybe that's a good thing that the world doesn't follow america anymore? or what would the inverse of that argument be? like, should the world follow america? or is it time for the world to
start doing its own thing and america to be less the world police? >> i think it is a good thing that other countries catch up and have their own capabilities and their own agency. that's not something that i think america should fear. my argument would be that even in a more multipolar world where you don't have just one big power but you have other countries who are coming into their own, the principles that america articulated at its best about rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, democracy-- those values, at least i choose to believe, are not exclusively american. you, as somebody who lived in south africa know the play in other countries sometimes you hear where somebody who is doing something entirely for power and
money and influence will say-- i they're criticizing-- say, "you've been just influenced by western thinking. that's colonial thinking." no, no, no, no. you are stealing from your people. don't-- and when we criticize you, don't claim that somehow this is some american hegemony being asserted against you. we're calling you on the fact that you're a thief. i think it's important for us to recognize that for all its failings, the values that america is often articulate on the world stage had been ones that i would still believe in and that a lot of people took comfort from. and when we are not asserting them, oftentimes, they don't-- you know, they don't play out on the world stage. >> trevor: i sometimes wondered if you ever grappled with the dichment o difficulty e
paradox of what america was trying to do in the world and what its actions were sometimes creating in the world. i think about that in the middle east, wars that have been started under false pretenses. people who have been killed who had nothing to-- as someone who had to make decisions and someone who was in that leadership position, do you sometimes grap welhow america did or did not help itself in how it acted with the world? because, in the world, i'll tell you an an international person, we would oftentimes go, "man, yes, america is great and doing wonderful things, but also, man, sometimes they break the rules and no one can say anything about that." >> absolute, and i record examples in the book of where i'm grappling with this. and one of the interesting challenges of being president of the united states, but i think being head of government or state in any country, is you inherit a legacy, right. so if i come in as president-- i
can't undo the iraq war, the decision to go into iraq. now, i can manage as best i can how we can wind down that war, mitigate some of the damage that's been done, but i can't reverse it. >> trevor: did you ever-- did you ever envy, though, how trump came in and basically broke shit, though? because he didn't care. >> no, i didn't envy it because i do care. and i do not think that is an option to simply pretend that the legacy of problems or issues that you inherit are somehow things you can just brush aside. so the answer is, yes, i-- i would struggle with the fact that any action i took,
particularly when you're talking about, you know, counter-terrorism. >> trevor: right. >> that's probably the area where i wrestled with this most. my obligation first and foremost in the united states was to make sure people didn't get hurt. that's sort of the bare minimum that you expect out of a nation state that you're living in is that you can defend against harm. because you're dealing with nonstate actors, that meant by the time i took office, you had networks that were embedded in societies, not necessarily supported by those societies, but they're there, and they are plotting and they are planning. and that wasn't made up. and there were organizations that if they could blow you want new york subway system, they would, if they could get their hands on a biological weapon, they would use it. you then are wrestling with how
do i protect the american people from those actors, but do it in a way that is morally and ethically justifies? >> trevor: right. >> and war is madness. kinetic action of any sort, military action of any sort that results in death and destruction at a certain level is not the thing i would want humanity to do. and what happens to people is tragic. it is not-- it is not something you gloss over. what-- what it does to our soldiers and our troops, you know, as i talk about in the book. it's not just the harm that our young men and women suffered-- and i would witness in walter reed-- but it's also how it changes them internally when they have engaged in violence, even if necessary and justified
against others. >> trevor: right. >> so the best i could come up with was to never glorify it, to never pretend like it isn't a dilemma. and so those kinds of questions i think are ones that not only should american leaders have to grapple with, but i think the american people have to be aware of. and sometimes the media does not do a very good job. it's a very binary-- you know, the iraq war, it's glorious for the first year and a half, and then suddenly, it's not. >> trevor: yes, yes. >> and we're shocked that us invagd another country might turn out to be messy. hopefully, that's not a lesson we have to repeatedly relearn. >> trevor: when we come back, president obama talks about how he really feels about the black lives matter movement. stay tun
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>> trevor: welcome back to "the daily social distancing show." here is more of my conversation with president obama. he told me how he would talk about police reform with white folks and with people like michelle's mom, and why progressives should avoid taking cues from the republican party. 2020 was a year for many of racial reckoning. it was the year when people of all ages to be to the streets-- black and white alike-- and said we need to change the way the
police deal with people in this country, predominantly black people this this country. it was an interesting time as well. your presidency, as you know, better than everyone, people thought, that is it. we're now in a post-racial utopia. barack obama is in the white house. we have half blark half white, let's have a good one. and people saw there was a lot of work to be done. let's talk a little bit about the movement as you see it. the problem i have with headlines sometimes is people take things out of context, ebt. et cetera. but some activists criticized you for saying they have to be careful of snappy slogans like "defund the police," because it loses people. but i wonder, do you think that the slogan is-- is the thing that makes people for or against you, or do you think people are just going to be for or against you, and the slogan doesn't really mean as much? what i mean by that, like donald trump's "make america great
again it's it's not a very divisive slogan. why would anyone not want to make america great again. as someone who is great at slogans-- "yes, we can." it's snappy. it worked. >> as i said in the book i actually thought it was corny. i didn't like it that much. ( laughter ) when my team came up with it. and then they went to ask michelle, and michelle said, "no, it's not corny. it's fine." clearly she had a better political brain than i did on this. i-- i'm glad you actually brought this up. because what's been fascinating while i've been on this book tour is people have asked me what's my source of optimism? and uniformly what i have said is nothing made me more opt mish during a very difficult year than the activism that we saw in the wake of george floyd's murder. >> trevor: right. >> and black lives matter. and i have consistently believed
that their courage, activism, media savvy, strategic resolve far exedz anything they could have done at their age. and i think it has shifted the conversation in ways that i would not even have imagined a couple of years ago. so throughout this slew of compliments, i then said, "well, what do you think about the particular slogan 'defund the police'?" and i said, well, that particular slogan, i think the concern is that there may be potential allies out there that you lose, and the issue always is how do you get enough people sosupport your cause that you
can actually institutionalize it and translate it into laws structurures, and so forth. >> trevor: right. >> there were two or three writers, who i admire, who brot, "obama's making it a mission to chastise black lives matter." and you're like, wait, hold on a second. i just spent the whole summer complimenting them. what are you talking about?" the reason it caught attention, i suspect, is there were some in the democratic party who suggested the reason we didn't cobetter in the congressional elections this time around was because of this phrase. >> trevor: right. >> and i think that people assumed that somehow i was making an argument that that's why we didn't get, you know, a bigger democratic majority. that actually was not the point i was making. i was making a very particular point around if we in fact want to translate the-- the very
legitimate belief that how we do policing needs to change and that if there is, for example, a homeless guy ranting and railing in the middle of the street, sending a mental health worker, rather than an armed, untrained police officer, to deal with that person might be a better outcome for all of us and make us safer, right. if we describe that to not just white folks but let's say michelle's mom, that makes sense to them. but if we say, "defund the police," not just white folks, but michelle's mom, might say, "if i'm getting robbed, who am i going to call, and is somebody going to show up?" right. >> trevor: right. >> so the issue here becomes at
any given time how are we translating and using language not to make people more comortable-- quote, unquote-- right. because that's always a strain historically. the concern in these debates is also-- is often, "oh, are we just trying to make white people comfortable rather than speaking truth to power?" right? that's the framework we tend to think about these things. >> trevor: right. >> the issue to me is not making them comfortable. it is can we be precise with our language enough that people who might be persuaded around that particular issue to make a particular change that gets a particular result that we want, what's the best way for us to describe that? >> trevor: so what you're basically saying is we should workshop all of our slogans with michelle. that's what i hear you saying. >> that probably would be wise. it would probably work. but i want to go back to something you said earlier which i think is really important.
and i-- i said this in the wake of some of this criticism. i said, look, part of this is also everybody has different roles to play. an activist, a movement leader is going to provide a prophetic voice, and speak certain truths that somebody who is going to be elected into office will not be able to say. i re-read james baldwin's "a fire next time" this summer. how is it that something written 50 years ago, 55 years ago... >> trevor: right, yeah, germany. >> ...applies directly today, right, despite everything that's happened? to me, that is as searing and as honest a portrayal of the gaping wound of race in america.
but, of course, james baldwin can't be elected to the u.s. senate or unlikely that he would want to be the mayor of a city, who's responsible for figuringut how i do deal with the police union? that's somebody else's role. and all these roles are important. and so know-- >> trevor: why do you think-- if i may interrupt-- why do you think, though, that republicans or right-wingers now do that, though? that's something that i've struggled to understand. you see now, even in this election, i mean, some of the republicans who were running were qanon, and some of them were winning. some of them were so extreme and they're winning. i sometimes wonder if there's this-- is it just a political thing in america where if you're in the republican party you can be completely bombastic in what you believe in, and then as a democrat you're trying to toe the line between centrist and left leaning? or-- >> well, because i think in fact
the republican party is the minority party in this country. the only reason that it doesn't look like they're the minority party is because of structures like the u.s. senate and the electoral college that don't render them the majority party. so they have certain built-in advantages around power given their population distribution and how our government works. but the truth of the matter is that 60% of the people are occupying what i would consider a more reality-based universe, and those are the-- those are the constituents we're speaking to. and that is a more-diverse group. you know, i describe-- in the book, the first time i go to the-- to the republican house caucus to speak to them. and i think there was an asian guy, or gal, and maybe a couple
of hispanics, and that was it. it is much more homogeneous. which means that, yes, they have to do less work, but it also means that they can talk to themselves and, as a consequence of the way our democracy, our republic is structured, they don't have to appeal to as broad of a base. that's not fair, but, you know, i at least would prefer not having the progressives model ourselves out of-- or model ours on the current republican party. that doesn't feel like a good strategy to me to get the outcomes that we want. >> trevor: when we come back, president obama reflects on whether he should have roasted donald trump back in 2011. you don't want to miss it.
every year, we set out to do one thing help the world believe in holiday magic. and this year was harder than ever. and yet, somehow, you all found a way to pull it off. it's not about the toys or the ornaments but about coming together. santa, santa, you're on mute! just wanted to say thanks. thanks for believing.
loosen things up. let's unbutton one of those-- one of those butons on the shirt. ( laughs ) as someone who i consider to be one of the best deliverers of jokes and roasts, are you going to be more careful going forward about who you roast? and i say this because you roasted donald trump. he ran for president. you roasted kanye west, he ran for president. so i don't know if you've noticed, but you have an ability to inspire people to run for the highest office in the land with some of the jokes that you tell about them. >> well, i should-- i should roast people-- people i admire more. i'll start roasting you, man. who knows. although, you weren't born here so... you know. >> i was born in hawaii-- >> who knows? >> trevor: uhm, before i let you go, i wanted to know one
last thing and that is being president of the united states is arguably the toughest job in the world. when you transition back to personal life, i wonder what that is like. because, unlike you, i don't have that power. i've never been able to change a thing in the world or do something about it. but now in many ways are you like me in that you see the the thing on the tv and you get angry or sad but you cannot really do anything about it. so i wonder, as former president barack obama, have you transitioned into that completely? or do you find different ways to try to fix the problems you see in the world? >> well, first of all, i'm not anything like you. i still have a lot more influence and clout. so let's just be clear. ( laughing ) come oman. let's put things in perspective gli i was hoping you would let that one slide and be like, "trevor, in many ways--" >> the truth is that i-- i did not have those kind of
withdrawals. and i know that there are people who i know who have had them when they leave public life and very visibly. they want to get back on stage. >> trevor: yeah. >> michelle and i, that's something we share. we feel good about the work we did. we don't feel anxiety about not being the center of attention. we get frustrated, like i think citizens around the world and here in the country do, when we see something unjust or unfair. and, yes, the goal i think for us is to find new ways to have that same impact, understanding that we'll never have the exact same impact as you have in the oval office. but a lot of the work around the foundation is-- you know, you said create a lot of obamas. i'm not sure that's the goal. but if 10 years, 20 years down the road, there are 1,000,
10,000, 100,000 young people who are now moving into positions of authority and power, and in some ways have been shaped by our example in a positive way, you know, that-- that's the legacy that may exceed anything that we did while we were in-- in our formal positions. and that feels pretty good. >> trevor: well, i could talk to you for hours, but luckily, i have a 700-page book to answer the rest of my questions. thank you for joining me. thank you for taking the time. and, yeah, thank you for being you. mr. president. a.k.a. obisalthank you for joining me on the "the daily social distancing show." >> i enjoyed it, man. we'll do it again, volume two. >> trevor: president obama's memoir "a promised land" is available now. okay, we're going to take a quick break, but we'll be right back after this. vor: that's ourr
tonight. but before we go: this holiday season, please don't forget to support your local restaurants. they are struggling to stay open during this pandemic, and if they don't get the help they need, they might not be open for you when the pandemic is over. if you want to help beyond just buying food, please consider a donation to the james beard foundation's "open for good" campaign, which helps independent restaurants survive the pandemic and rebuild stronger. until tomorrow, stay safe out there, wear a mask, and remember: if your penis pops out, just say it was a glitch
and offer everyone in the room a full refund. now, here it is, your moment of zen. >> it's the hottest new show in america-- "who wants to be vaccinated?" >> let's actually get some shots in arms. you're going to see the first shot done right here, right now. you guys ready to go? >> not in front of a studio audience. you do i want want to miss your to win. >> we're here to watch you take the first shot. ( applause ). >> johnny, tell them what vaccinated people get. >> you'll be taking home vaccination and a free trip to sandals jamaica. >> you don't want to miss out! ♪ i'm goin' down to south park, gonna have myself a time ♪ ♪ friendly faces everywhere ♪ humble folks without temptation ♪
that's why we here at netflix are thrilled to be working with you two comedy geniuses, terrance and phillip. [ farts ] [ laughs ] classic stuff. now go ahead and pitch what you're thinking for your netflix original series. well, we were thinking that we'd do a show where phillip and i are on a farm. with a cow. [ chuckling ] okay, i love it so far. the sun is just starting to come up, and then... i fart on phillip. and i say, "terrance! you farted!" and i... fart on terrance. and then it's like a back and forth kind of thing? it's sort of like a -- it's like a back and forth kind of thing. i fart on him. he... farts...